T Nation

Sloping Shoulders Look


Hey there

I’m 17 and I’ve been working out for just about 1 year.

This topic isn’t necessarily going to be about advice for hypertrophy or gaining muscle in general, but rather about an aesthetic issue I realized I have.

Ever since I started lifting weights, and thus have become more conscious about how my body looks, I’ve realized that: I have quite a long neck, relatively big traps, small delts, and narrow clavicles.

What this causes is that damned sloping shoulder look (so not a straight line from the base of my neck to my delts but rather a downward “curve”) which totally defeats the purpose of building a V taper, X frame, wide shouders/narrow waist, or whatever we wanna call it.

So, even though I have put on some muscle and have definitely improved the way my body looks, I still can’t help but think the way my upper body looks sucks, both naked and with clothes on.

Here are some pics:

These ones are from before I started lifting, just to show how my body naturally looked

these are a couple of months into training (4 months at most depending on the pic)

http://i.imgur.com/2De9VRe.jpg – in this one you can actually see the length of my neck; something I really loathe and I’ve also been made fun of for in the past.
http://i.imgur.com/CzJOXtp.jpg – this is just awful if you ask me. My back development has since improved (this was taken like 9 months ago) but the shape of my body is still kinda similar to that

and these were taken a couple of days ago after completing a full cycle of bulking and about half way into cutting

just to make it clear: these were taken post workout so I had a little bit of a pump. plus, while I wasn’t really posing, I still tensed the muscles a little bit so assume I don’t look as good in everyday life

I know much of this is just genetics (I spent lots of time researching this) and my best bet is probably to work on the middle delts (I’ve been messing around with different kinds of lateral raises and am currently doing them Alberto Nunez style. Most of the other variations don’t allow me to really feel the delts working as the traps just take over) and I am not doing any direct trap work.

I can post my current split if you like.

Hope to get some useful advice from you more experienced guys.

Thank you!


Go for it.

Also, half of your post is blurry. Not sure what is going on with your photos or part of the text.


Looks like the last 2 links cannot be opened due to forum’s limitations
here they are



I put the 2 links not showing in a reply above. There appears to be a limitation which doesn’t allow new users to post more than 1 img and 1 link per post, or something like that.

To see the blurred text, just click on it

Anyway, this is my current split:


WORKOUT A Heavy legs

Squat 4x6-8

Leg press 4x10-12

DB Romanian Deadlift 4x10-12

Pull through 4x10-12

WORKOUT B Push hypertrophy

Db incline bench press 4x8-12

Db OHP 4x8-12

Chest press 3x8-12

Db lateral raises 4x10-12

Low to high cable fly 3x10-12

Triceps pushdown 3x8-10

Tricep overhead extension 3x10-12

WORKOUT C Heavy pull

T bar row 4x6-8

Lat machine 4x8-12

Db row 4x8-12xarm

Cable pullover 3x8-12

Face pulls 4x8-12

Rear delt fly 3x10-12

Cable curl 3x10-12

Cable preacher curl 3x10-12

WORKOUT D Legs hypertrophy

Leg press 3x10-12

Leg curl 4x8-12

Db lunges 3x8xleg

Leg extensions 3x10-12

Pull through 4x10-12

WORKOUT E Heavy push

Seated OHP 4x6-8

Incline db press 3x8-12

Shoulder press machine 3x8-10

High to low cable fly 3x10-12

Db lateral raises 4x10-12

Triceps pushdown 3x8-10

WORKOUT F Pull hypertrophy

Chin ups 4x8-12

T bar row 4x8-12

Lat machine 3x10-12

Db row 3x8-10xarm

Rear delt fly 3x10-12

Face pull 3x10-12

Rope curl 3x10-12

so as you can see it’s an 8-day Push/Pull/Legs split. It’s based on VitruvianPhysique’s one (if by any chance you know the guy) but I slightly tweaked to suit my goals better. I’m considering to change some more in order to turn it in an even more delts focused routine (so the main changes would occur in push days) so I can try and offset the issue I’m talking about in the OP.

Any specific advice as far as the split or the shoulder issue goes?


@Chris_Colucci what’s going on? Is this just me? Zoomed out on my computer to show what’s going on.


There were spoiler tags causing the blurred text/images in OP’s posts. Certainly unnecessary, so should be all fixed now.



RE: Body type.

You appear to have a longer torso (not weird, I have long legs).

Narrower shoulders aren’t that big of a deal. It’s actually easier to look bigger, because you don’t have to add as much muscle to look fuller.

I have a long neck as well. If you read my log, you’ll see I always complain about my upper back. Also, your haircut actually makes your neck look longer… so there’s that.

RE: Training

You’ve made solid progress. I’d focus on really hitting shoulders, lats, TRAPS and chest. Traps will thicken your neck and make the transition from shoulders to head less noticeable.

I am really not a huge fan of working hypertrophy and strength as separate training days in the same split. The body doesn’t work that way. It sounds good logically, as that’s the way your brain works, but your body looks at stimulus and doesn’t recognize “Oh, I’m doing 12 reps, I better grow.” Or, “Oh, it’s 5 reps, must need to get stronger”

Did you pay for this routine?


@dchris makes many excellent points. You’ve made great progress in a year–you’ve gone from having the body of a boy to that of a young man. Kudos, your hard work is paying off.

As for what you seem to think are serious structural flaws, relax. Your shoulders are not super-wide, but neither are they narrow. You are not slope-shouldered. Your neck is long, but not particularly so. (Although I agree with @dchris that a different haircut would help–the higher your hair, the longer your neck appears, so keep it short on top.)

Like many teens, you are overly body-conscious, and have clearly spent too much time comparing yourself to airbrushed (or ‘filtered,’ or whatever it’s called these days) pics of assisted lifters who are blessed with perfect genetics. Stop doing that. The fact is, you’ve got a good physique already, and it’s only going to get better as you get more gym-time under your belt.

Train hard, eat right, rest. Repeat, repeat, repeat. I assure you, as your body and mind mature, you are going to be very, very happy with the results.


First of all thank you guys for the replies

  • Body type

You’re right as to looking bigger more easily if you aren’t very wide-shouldered, but it’s also more difficult (if not nearly impossible) to achieve e very broad look, especially when dressed (unless you can find very tapered clothes, which I haven’t been able to yet–I guess that has to do with the kind of clothing we wear at my age).

Also, I know maybe this isn’t the most appropriate place to talk about hair but, since you mentioned it… I am aware of what you pointed out. I have been experimenting with quite a lot of different cuts and styles, but none of them really seems to solve the problem. I’m quite unlucky as far as hair goes: I’ve got kinda curly hair, it’s not very thick, and on top of that I have a very high hairline and forehead (I could say I look like I’m balding already if it wasn’t for the fact that I haven’t lost any hair at all) which, combined with my face shape (pretty oval/oblong with lots of height and little width) just makes it very hard to find any hairstyle that really fits well. Advice is welcome (maybe drop me a PM) if you like.

  • Training

Thank you, I really appreciate that!

As far as training traps, hmm I don’t know, I’m not fully convinced. Do you have any example (pics) of how that would look if a person with a structure like mine developed their traps? I really want to focus on growing my delts and I’m afraid trap development could take away from that.

As for the split, yes I did pay for it ($ 9.99) and for a specific reason: for the past 7 months I designed my routines and programs myself, based on the knowledge I had acquired (I found myself enjoying spending hours worth of time reading studies, research, and anything about weight training) and I wanted a reality check. I’d been following that guy’s youtube channel for a while and he made lots of sense to me so I gave it a shot.

As for the hypertrophy/strength issue: as you probably noticed, even tho I call them “heavy” or “hypertrophy” days, there really isn’t much of a difference for most of the exercises.

In heavy days, I just try and improve my strength on the main lift (t-bar rows for pull, seated barbell ohp for push, and squat for legs) while keeping all the other exercises the same. And still I don’t go as heavy (I do a 4x6-8 starting with a weight I can do 4x6, then work up the reps until I hit 4x8, and then I up the weight).

As far as the exercise and rep range selection, do you have any advice? Does it look okay to you?


You have done well, all you need now is to keep it up, be patient and consistent and it will come with time. Good progress this far

As soon as I saw the thread title and started reading i thought “oh shit, we have a new clavicle guy” but you seem more reasonable and I hope you believe us when we say that you have very little wrong with your physique and just need to keep adding more mass

best of luck


I agree that overall, you’re doing very well and don’t have much to worry about. That said, it might be worth if for you to play around with some of the suggestions in Tony Gentilcore’s “So Your Shoulders Are Depressed” blog post. Once you’ve done that for a while, you can progress to exercises that put your scapulae into upward rotation and elevation under more load, like a barbell overhead shrug.


you look like a completely normal human being who is prone to being lean. That’s literally all that can be judged from your pictures. There are no perceivable structural issues. You look the way you do because you have not developed much muscle to this point, and you have a level of leanness that reveals your structure more than fatter people.

What you do NOT have: relatively big traps, a long neck, or narrow clavicles. your delts are small, but not relatively so. Meaning, they are essentially in proportion to the rest of you.

So now for the advice part…

The fact that you even know what ‘Alberto Nunez style lateral raises’ are tells me a lot about your mental state as it relates to lifting. It tells me that, aside from being prone to leanness, you are prone to over thinking and getting bogged down in minutia. There is absolutely no reason for you to be ‘playing around with different versions of lateral raises’. Just do lateral raises. lol. If you’re gonna vary how you do them a bit simply for the sake of keeping training interesting, that’s one thing. But the net training EFFECT of variation will be negligible.

If I were you, I would forget about the very concept of weak and strong points. Don’t tweak programs to suit what you THINK are your needs, because I can promise you, you don’t actually know what your needs are, nor do you actually know how to effectively tweak programs. I would get on the most basic lifting template I could find, and hammer the major compound lifts for the next 5 years. I would eat as much as I can. And I would get phenomenal results from this. And to that point, I think the program you posted is fine for now.


I think this complicates things unnecessarily. I personally value both farmers carries and front squats, but I think the program he wrote out is totally fine for now. If you ask him to tweak it, I think you sort of open him up to making programming mistakes. I think that mentally, he will be best served by sticking to a pre-written program, as is.

Aside from this, it’s very, very rare that I find a swiss bar/football bar in a commercial gym. And farmers carries are usually impossible to do as well, unless you’re just gonna use like 100 lbs dbs for 30 feet or something.



Thank you for sharing that post!
I took a read and it looks solid for the most part, but I would like to point out something.

  • About the exercises it says should be ditched:

Deadlift: really no problem since I wasn’t doing it anyway

Pull-ups: does this apply to lat pulldowns too? Because if so, that is going to be a problem for me. Pull downs (along with chin ups which I only recently started doing) have been a staple for me since I started lifting and I think they really helped with my lat development. Is it fine if I keep those? Any viable alternative?

Anything involving holding DBs: really no big deal here, except for an exercise–the db stiff-legged deadlift. I really like this exercise and since no seated leg curl machine is available at my gym, I am not really left with anything to build my hams (standing and lying leg curls just don’t feel right). Any alternative? Goodmornings maybe?

Some rows and OHP: Really?!

  • About the drills suggested

I will be trying them, but when should I do them? Before/after a workout, when training back/shoulders, or just whenever I feel like doing them?

Also, I had already heard of the overhead shrug on a popular fitness yt channel and it sounded interesting to me. Haven’t yet had a chance to do some research about the exercise, would you mind elaborating a little about how I will be able to benefit from it? Also, any reading you’d suggest about it?


Thank you for saying I am prone to being lean. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the case (and neither would you if you saw any 2is-month-old pic of me back when I was dirty bulking [never going to do that again]), and I look fairly lean because I’ve been (and am still) cutting for a couple of months now.

As far as the proportion thing: I totally respect what you say but I do believe that my traps are just a bit out of proportion with my delts (and, as you pointed out, they are pretty small).
I have always been told I have a long neck and even looking at myself in the mirror I can clearly see that. I agree on the fact that, while not the broadest out there, my clavicles aren’t very narrow luckily (although I would certainly like them a little wider but I guess there’s not much I can do about that).

Anyway, I think I didn’t express my “issue” well: you’re the second person here talking about structural problems. I don’t think I ever mentioned that in the OP. I’m not saying I have structural problems–just a look a don’t like (that of “sloping” shoulders) and I was asking if there is anything I can do about it.

You’re right as to me spending lots of time reading and micro-planning, as well as over-thinking–that’s always been a vice of mine.

But I have a valid reason for having played around with side raises for a while.
I had always had problems feeling my delts in side raises (or in any delt exercise for that matter). I just felt my traps aching but no delt involvment. So I started doing research and I learned about the middle delt and how it gets stimulated better when the arm is internally rotated, how leaning forward increases the amount of tension it undergoes due to the way it’s attached in the shoulder joint, etc., and I came across this Alberto Nunez video in which he was talking about what his way of doing them was like.

I gave it a shot and I was blown away from how good my side delts felt after that. Had the best pumps I had ever had and now I can really feel my delts working on the side laterals, rather than my traps.

Also, thank you for saying the program I posted is fine. It’s the version I tweaked and, even tho I agree with you I probably lack the skills to properly tweak a routine, you not noticing any major mistake is good feedback to me.


Post a photo of your back. I thought I saw one earlier, but don’t see it now.


It’s up to you if you want to follow the advice in the article or not. I can’t say for sure based on your pictures if your scapulae sit in a position of depression and downward rotation, but it looks that way to me based on what I can see. If that is true and it’s something you’re interested in changing, then I’d start by following the advice in the article. If not, then I wouldn’t.

Re: exercises for hamstrings that don’t require you to hold a heavy weight in your hands: GHRs, 45 degree hypers, stability ball leg curls, furniture slider leg curls, natural GHRs, cable pullthroughs. I’m sure there are more, but those spring to mind.

A good time to do those exercises would be during your warmup and as active rest between sets of larger exercises.

If your scapulae sit in a position of depression and downward rotation, an overhead shrug will help to alleviate this by training you to achieve a position of upward rotation and elevation. I believe that Gentilcore has a post about overhead shrugs on his blog.


http://i.imgur.com/CzJOXtp.jpg This is the photo of his back.


Yup, it is 8 months old.
Will have a bro take one for me at the gym today so you guys can see how it looks like currently.

I will reply to the last comments more in detail as soon as I get a chance to sit at my computer.


@samul your back kind of reminds me of Brady’s, although he actually has traps: Attempts at Strongman

Really hitting your shoulders AND traps will reduce the visual effect that you are wanting to limit.